Bag it, bin it, flick it, hang it on a tree… What’s a responsible dog owner to do…?

I was intrigued to read a letter in The Argus recently from a local resident about the ongoing problem faced by many people on streets and in parks – how to effectively manage problem-dog poo.

The letter-writer queried who at Stanmer Park was responsible for bagging up dog poo from paths, only to then throw the tied bag and its contents into the woods where it will take an age to be reabsorbed by the land.

What interested me was where the writer also mentioned that the advice in the New Forest is to use a ‘stick to flick’. Having looked into this I found there’s a group of dog owners in the New Forest working together to improve visitors’ experiences by developing a dog-owners’ code. This code, a list of do’s and don’ts, advises people to bag up dog mess at car parks and picnic areas, and elsewhere to use a stick to flick poo from paths into the undergrowth, where it will naturally biodegrade in a  few days.

Whilst clearly we don’t have woodland spaces the size of the New Forest, I feel this kind of approach could potentially work very well for our own large open spaces, particularly where dog mess bins have all been removed from inner park areas and all but the largest car parks over recent years (I can only assume due to the all-encompassing budget cuts).

I also don’t understand why people bag up their dog’s doings and then throw it into the woods or worse, hang it from a tree. Perhaps these owners intended to pick it up on the way back but forgot. Whatever the reason, I’d be really interested to see our own dear Council look into a similar campaign.

The other aspect of the New Forest code that interested me was the mention of designated picnic and seating areas. Aside from a sorry looking bench and table at Sheepcote Valley (now fenced into the sheep enclosure) I can’t recollect any such designated picnic areas in our larger parks. At Stanmer and Sheepcote Valley in particular this could be a great way to help everyone better enjoy the parks. At the moment anyone wanting to have a picnic in the park must lay a blanket down on the floor and hope for the best, and that’s before being visited by a stream of inquisitive dogs.

If we can afford miles of new fencing for the sheep at Sheepcote, I’m sure we can find a few pounds for some signs and picnic benches for people too.

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